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Biographical/Historical Information

Alfred Döblin was a German writer and physician. His parents had a rocky marriage, eventually divorcing, and he lived with his mother and siblings in Berlin since 1889. Döblin studied medicine at the University of Berlin and specialized in neurology and psychiatry in Freiburg im Breisgau. He took up a few positions before opening his own practice in 1911 in the Kreuzberg neighborhood of Berlin. He fathered a son named Bodo out of wedlock with Friede Kunke, a young nurse who later died of tuberculosis, though his family forced him to marry Erne Reiss in 1912. He began writing more often, and made connections with a number of artists and intellectuals. During World War I, Döblin volunteered and served as a doctor in Saargemünd. After the war and a number of personal trials, he became more political. The family eventually moved to Paris, gaining citizenship in 1936. When World War II began, he wrote counter-propoganda for the French ministry along with a number of French Germanists. In 1940, he spent time at a refugee camp in Mende after the Germans invaded France. Later that year, he sailed for the United States, settling in Los Angeles. He and his wife returned to Europe in 1945, jumping from Baden-Baden to Paris, experiencing frustration with the post-war literary scene. The end of his life was marked by struggles in both health and finances, which were eventually lessened by winning a literary prize from the Mainz Academy and from German compensation for Nazi persecution. He died in 1957.

Emil Stumpp was an artist and teacher born in Neckarzimmern in southeastern Germany, on March 17, 1886. He served in World War I and eventually reached the rank of lieutenant. He studied art and humanities, and eventually quit teaching to pursue art. He reached some fame for his portraits of well-known people in the 1930s. Stumpp was commissioned for a portrait of Adolf Hitler on the occassion of his birthday in 1933, but when it was declared unflattering he was professionally disqualified. He was arrested and sentenced to one year in prison. He died in 1941 from conditions in jail.

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Stumpp, Emil: Alfred Döblin, Leo Baeck Institute, 78.1690.